Team

Elizabeth Ayala,
Senior Program Associate

Elizabeth Ayala,
Senior Program Associate

Elizabeth Ayala is a passionate community advocate and nonprofit professional dedicated to developing authentic and powerful grassroots leaders. As program associate for the Women’s Policy Institute (WPI), she focuses on the WPI-County fellowship program.

Elizabeth worked as a professional community organizer for the faith-based grassroots network PICO National Network with its affiliate, Inland Congregations United for Change (ICUC) in Riverside, California. During her time at ICUC, she helped change DUI checkpoint policies at the city level, mitigating the negative economic impact on Latino immigrant neighborhoods and she helped over 500 families modify their mortgages in a series of nonprofit multi-agency workshops during the worst part of the recession. She and other grassroots leaders were part of the successful lobby efforts to pass multiple laws that improved the lives of low-income families, including AB 1389, which saved Riverside residents hundreds of thousands of dollars by avoiding costly towing and impounds of family vehicles.

After PICO National, Elizabeth was a coordinator for an innovative bilingual English/Spanish civic engagement project for El Sol Neighborhood Educational Center, a multicultural health promotion and education agency in San Bernardino, California. Elizabeth was a founding board member and eventually served as chair of the Riverside Food Cooperative, a non-profit business that aims to open a consumer-owned grocery store that supports local agriculture and spurs economic growth in Riverside. She has been an adult mentor for the Child Leader Project (CLP) since 2012 and is currently its “Presidenta.” As Presidenta, she leads CLP efforts to provide safe spaces for youth to grow and learn about social justice issues and sponsors the multicultural Arlanza Community Garden. She is a community organizer for Time For Change Foundation, which works with homeless women and children.

Elizabeth holds a BA with honors in international relations from Stanford University. At Stanford she conducted international field research in El Salvador and wrote her thesis on the impact of migrant monetary remittances on Salvadoran household economic decisions. She received the Center for Teaching & Learning’s Best Thesis Presentation award. Elizabeth was born in Corona, California and was raised by hardworking immigrant parents from Mexico and El Salvador. Elizabeth lives in the city of Riverside where she enjoys singing and telling stories for fundraisers across the Inland Empire region of Southern California.

Tania Flores,
Senior Program Associate

Tania Flores,
Senior Program Associate

Tania Flores is a dedicated social justice advocate and nonprofit program manager. In her capacity as senior program associate for the Women’s Policy Institute, she runs the day-to-day operations of WPI-State and the WPI Alumni Network, contributes to program design and development processes, and helps facilitate trainings and workshops. Since joining the Foundation in January 2016, she has overseen the establishment of the WPI Alumni Network Leadership Committee, the expansion of WPI Alumni Network programming, and the addition of several gender justice training components into the WPI curriculum.

Prior to joining the Women’s Policy Institute team, Tania worked as a program coordinator for Zócalo Public Square in Los Angeles. She planned and staffed multiple panel discussions and lectures per week, including the largest event in the organization’s history. She managed event-related online content, produced and distributed digital communications and spearheaded outreach campaigns.

Tania is deeply committed to educational justice and is passionate about amplifying the voices of youth, particularly young people of color, in efforts to achieve social justice. She has worked for LA’s Gang Reduction Youth Development program and the University of Southern California’s Upward Bound program and she volunteered for several years with the national organization, Women and Youth Supporting Each Other.

Originally from Cuernavaca, México, Tania spent a year in Granada, Spain as a Fulbright Research Scholar. Her project focused on narratives of race and ethnicity in histories of flamenco. She graduated summa cum laude from Occidental College with a double major in critical theory & social justice and English & comparative literary studies. She has lived in México, Morocco, Spain and the US. In her spare time, Tania dances flamenco and salsa, studies Arabic, and enjoys poetry and live music.

Stephanie Volkoff Green,
Director of Institutional Giving

Stephanie Volkoff Green,
Director of Institutional Giving

As the Director of Institutional Giving, Stephanie works to secure funding partners from the institutional and corporate philanthropic communities. She also manages the Philanthropy and Public Policy Institute.

Throughout her career Stephanie has focused on inspiring communities of support for mission-led organizations. Before joining the Women’s Foundation of California, Stephanie was the Development Manager for Advancement and Planned Giving with Mother Jones where she more than tripled the size of their midlevel giving program, rebranded and relaunched the Legacy Society and spearheaded an interdepartmental effort to more effectively engage the community of donors and subscribers. During the 2004 Presidential campaign, Stephanie was the Canvass Director for Grassroots Campaigns and lead MoveOn’s final get out the vote work in Albuquerque, NM.

Stephanie holds a Master’s degree in Women’s and Gender Studies from the University of Texas where she was the teaching assistant for former Governor Ann Richards. She received her undergraduate degree from St. Mary’s College of California where she helped to establish the Women’s Resource and Research Center.

Rozella Kennedy,
Chief Development Officer

Rozella Kennedy,
Chief Development Officer

Rozella (Rozie) Kennedy joined the Women’s Foundation of California as Chief Development Officer in 2017, having served in leadership and fundraising roles across the non-profit sector, with particular focus on social, racial, gender, economic, and environmental justice and cross-cultural relations.

After beginning a career in journalism in Paris, France, and with Time Inc. and NY1 News in New York, Oxygen Media and other outlets, she transitioned to the nonprofit sector in New Mexico, helping establish three nonprofits: the NM Centennial, Creative Santa Fe, and the award-winning arts organization Santa Fe New Music.

Upon her relocation to the Bay Area in 2012, Rozie assumed senior-level roles in fundraising and leadership, serving as Executive Director of the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, as Philanthropic Relations Officer for San Mateo-based science museum Curiodyssey and its multi-million-dollar capital campaign, and in senior development roles for Earth Island Institute and New Door Ventures.

A New York City native, Ms. Kennedy earned her high school diploma from the Brearley School in Manhattan, a BA in French and English from Tufts University, and an MA in French Caribbean literature from Paris’s Sorbonne University. She is fluent in French, proficient in Spanish and conversant in Portuguese and Italian.

“It is an honor for me to join The Women’s Foundation of California,” she remarks, “particularly at this moment in our nation’s history. California is at the vanguard in demonstrating how we forge ahead with an equity agenda for women, girls, and trans people—particularly people of color, the underpaid, underserved, under-resourced, and those who are marginalized by ingrained systems of oppression. Empowering these community members to advocate and create policy across the justice spectrum is an extraordinarily pertinent mission to engage in. California can be a beacon for other states and regions who recognize that our only way forward as a society is by building more inclusivity and establishing broader rights for all. As The Women’s Foundation gears up for our 40th anniversary in 2019, this is a terrific moment to reach more partners and supporters and welcome them into our sphere of work.”

In addition to her passion for social justice, Rozie enjoys cheering on the Golden State Warriors, watching tennis, playing with her dogs and dancing with Rhythm and Motion at ODC in SF’s Mission District. With her husband, the renowned new music composer/conductor John Kennedy, she has two young adult daughters and resides in Berkeley.

Surina Khan,
Chief Executive Officer

Surina Khan,
Chief Executive Officer

Surina is a proud Californian by way of Connecticut and Pakistan. A first generation immigrant, Surina came to the US with her parents and five older siblings in 1973, and has been dedicated to gender, racial, and economic justice issues for almost three decades.

As CEO, Surina oversees the Foundation’s strategic direction which is focused on building community-based power through investing in effective nonprofit organizations, training community leaders in policy advocacy, connecting key partners, and mobilizing significant financial resources.

Surina first became involved with WFC as a volunteer in 2004 serving on a grants review committee and then joined the staff in 2005 as a Senior Program Officer and was promoted to Director of Programs and then Vice President of Programs. In 2011 Surina was recruited by the Ford Foundation to design and launch Ford’s LGBT Rights Initiative and went on to become a Director in the Democracy Rights and Justice Program where she shaped more than $30 million in annual grantmaking around the world to expand rights for women, LGBT people, people living with HIV/AIDS, and in the areas of strengthening democratic participation and governance.

She returned to WFC as CEO in 2014 and is dedicated to engaging more people to join the Foundation and its partners to support those who are most impacted by the problems in their community to develop solutions to advance gender, racial, and economic justice.

Earlier in her career Surina served as Executive Director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (now OutRight Action International) where she worked to advance the human rights of LGBTQI people and people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide. Prior to that she was a research analyst for Political Research Associates, conducting groundbreaking research on the Right’s attacks on women and LGBT people.

She currently serves on the Boards of Funders for Reproductive Equity, Funders for LGBTQ Issues, Alliance for Justice, La Cocina, and OutRight Action International. Surina is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Campaign for College Opportunity, the Ambassador Council for the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, a founding Advisor for the Closing the Women’s Wealth Gap Initiative, and a member of the Public Policy Committee for Southern California Grantmakers and Northern California Grantmakers.

She previously served on the Boards of numerous organizations including the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund and the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. Surina is a widely recognized expert on gender, racial, and economic justice and a frequent commentator on the power of women’s philanthropy. Her writing and research have been published widely in print and online publications including the Sacramento Bee, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Jose Mercury News, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, and Philanthropy News Digest.

Marj Plumb,
Chief Strategist, Policy Advocacy & Training

Marj Plumb,
Chief Strategist, Policy Advocacy & Training

Marj Plumb serves as Chief Strategist, Policy Advocacy & Training and is responsible for our state-level and county-level training programs. Marj co-created WPI and has served as the lead trainer since the program’s establishment in 2003. As principal of Plumbline Coaching and Consulting, Inc., Marj has been a non-profit consultant, coach, and trainer for the past 15 years specializing in community-based participatory research and evaluation, public policy, strategic planning and organizational and leadership development.

Prior to starting her consulting practice Marj served for over 25 years in senior management positions with a variety of non-profit organizations working on health, mental health and substance abuse, economic development, environmental justice, LGBT rights, violence prevention, and social justice/civil rights. In addition to WPI, Marj created Reach the Decision Makers, a policy training program of the UCSF Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment.

Marj provides training in community-based participatory research and evaluation through the California Breast Cancer Research Program (CBCRP) and the Child Health and Development Studies (CHDS). She also works as a large-group, multi-stakeholder facilitator and strategic planner for CBCRP’s Special Research Initiatives, planning $20 million in innovative research on the environmental causes of breast cancer and the causes of breast cancer disparities. Marj also provides management support to two small non-profit organizations, the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility and Woman Vision, an LGBT social justice documentary film agency.

Marj has a master’s degree in Nonprofit Management (MNA) from the University of San Francisco and a doctorate in public health (DrPH) from the University of California, Berkeley. She received her coaching training from the Coaches Training Institute and the Co-Active Leadership Program and advanced coaching training on relationships and organizational systems from The Center for Right Relationship.

She has been awarded the Professional Coach Certificate (PCC) from the International Coach Federation. Marj is a certified practitioner of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (Step I and Step II) and through California State University/East Bay received her certification in Online Teaching and Learning (OTL).

Rhiannon Rossi,
Program Officer

Rhiannon Rossi,
Program Officer

As Program Officer, Rhiannon Rossi is responsible for implementing and strengthening the Foundation’s grantmaking and partnerships between WFC’s donor advised funds and the Foundation. She brings a wealth of experience in gender justice philanthropy.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Rhiannon served as the Philanthropic Education Officer at Chicago Foundation for Women where she oversaw the Foundation’s leadership and philanthropic development programming. While at Chicago Foundation for Women, Rhiannon managed the establishment of the Foundation’s first giving circle, which exceeded membership and grantmaking goals in its first year. She also created and enhanced programs to build community among the various organizational stakeholders. Before Chicago Foundation for Women, Rhiannon gained experience working with a number of diverse nonprofit organizations as a development professional.

Rhiannon received her BA from Indiana University-Bloomington. During her time there she began to cultivate her excitement for philanthropy. Rhiannon is passionate about women’s issues and volunteers as an advocate for survivors of sexual assault and is a member of Spark San Francisco.

Carly Vendeiro,
Administrative Assistant

Carly Vendeiro,
Administrative Assistant

Carly joined the Foundation in August 2017, providing administrative support across the programs, development, and finance teams. Her passion for racial, gender, and economic justice has been a driving force for her since a young age.

Carly graduated summa cum laude from the University of California, Berkeley in May 2017 with majors in Sociology and Social Welfare and a minor in Portuguese Language and Literature. In her early undergraduate career she served as president of the campus’ largest LGBTQ organization and quickly found fulfillment in community engagement and social justice on a professional level.

She then facilitated two semesters of Female Sexuality at UC Berkeley (FemSex), a student-led course surrounding sexuality and social justice. Additionally, she spent three years as a researcher at The Goodly Institute, a team housed in the Berkeley Institute for Data Science which studies interactions between police and protesters during the Occupy Movement.

In 2015, Carly lived for six months in Lisbon, Portugal, where she began her independent honors thesis project which explored sexual minorities in the country’s post-dictatorship context.

In her spare time, Carly enjoys staying active with her friends, and spends most evenings on skates playing for the local roller derby league.

Giulietta Wertz-Best,
Development Associate

Giulietta Wertz-Best,
Development Associate

Giulietta moved to the Bay Area in 2012 to attend California College of the Arts. While earning their degree, they joined CCA’s Advancement team where they worked as the Advancement Assistance from 2014 -16. This position introduced them to nonprofit fundraising and motivated them to bring their skills to The Women’s Foundation of California where they could better serve queer & LGBTQIA+ communities.

Born and raised in a small suburb outside of Kansas City, MO, they and their sister spent much of their youth as quasi-carers to their mother who suffered from MS. Their mother’s fortitude and their sister’s unwavering support are their constant reminders of women’s ability to support and empower each other through adverse situations and are one of the many reasons they pursued women’s advocacy work.

Giulietta has a BFA with an emphasis in Illustration from the California College of the Arts. Outside of work and their illustrative practice, they enjoy hiking, playing the violin and chilling with their cat Fletcher and dog Remy.